New Zealand rules out quick membership of Aukus tech pact

New Zealand’s foreign minister on May 1 ruled out swiftly joining a landmark defence technology pact with Australia, United Kingdom and the United States (Aukus), but attacked the pact’s critics as outdated.

Arguing that the underpinnings of New Zealand’s independent-minded foreign policy have “seismically shifted”, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said it would be “irresponsible” of the government not to dive in depth defence cooperation with allies.

New Zealand’s possible participation in Aukus attempts to grow advanced military technology – specifically in regions, like artificial intelligence, undersea drones and hypersonic missiles – has roiled the nation’s politics.

Centre-left former prime minister Helen Clark is among those who have argued that participation in Aukus would threaten New Zealand’s sovereignty and risk damaging rapports with major trade partner China. Mr Peters on May 1 said those arguments were outdated, adding at Parliament: “The world has transformed, and so must we.”